Dragons Face Familiar Foe in Arlington Bowie
The Dragons are back in black as they head into the first round of playoffs. Photo courtesy of Rex Teter Photography.
“There’s nothing physically different about putting on the black pants — it just means something more,” said quarterback Ryan Agnew. “It means playoffs and creating your own legacy.” With tonight’s return to Dragon playoff football, also returning are the familiar black pants and yes, the golden locks.
The Dragons (9-1) look to increase their current winning streak to 10 as they open up the 5A Division 1 playoffs against Arlington Bowie (7-3). After splitting two earlier playoff meetings with the Volunteers in recent years, Hal Wasson and his staff are accustomed to having to game-plan for a familiar foe in the Volunteers.
“They’re very fast, very athletic,” Coach Wasson said. “We have to tackle well, run the ball well and protect the football, be very efficient in all areas and keep their athletes off the field.” With this year’s meeting having the same win-or-go-home implications as the previous two, the Dragons look to go up one in the series.
Southlake Carroll boasts one of the more potent offenses in the DFW area despite losing one of its leading returning receivers Ryan Weigel, who finished second on the team in receptions and receiving yards a season ago. Entering the playoffs second in DFW 5A competition in both total yards per game and points per game — averaging 520.2 ypg and 52.3 ppg, respectively — the Dragons are looking to maximize one of the more balanced offensive attacks in the state of Texas.
“It’s been a team effort,” Wasson said. “Team chemistry is not inherited — it’s a journey. It’s fun to watch this team grow and mature. We still have to grow, and that’s the good news; we have 15 new starters. It’s been fun to see the journey.” With junior quarterback Ryan Agnew having a stellar year spreading the ball around to a deep group of talented receivers, plus the two-headed monster of A.J. Ezzard and Li’l Jordan Humphrey combining for 1,248 yards and eight touchdowns, the Dragons seem poised to make a deep playoff run.
The Volunteers enter the playoffs with a 7-3 record, dropping two of their last three including a blowout 48-17 loss to district rival Arlington Martin. Facing Martin without star athlete Tony James, who suffered a concussion the previous week in a loss to Arlington, severely hampered the Bowie offense. James, a wide receiver who converted to quarterback last season after starter Keaton Perry suffered a season-ending injury, once again took over for Perry, filling in admirably and totaling 1,035 yards through the ground and air along with 20 touchdowns.
Facing a stingy Bowie defense that only allows 280.5 ypg — ranking in the top 15 in area competition — the Dragons expect increased pressure on their wide receivers. “It all depends on how they play us defensively,” Wasson added. “We anticipate press coverage and man coverage. Ultimately, we need to run the football effectively and spread the wealth, give it to our playmakers in space and have them make plays.”
Kickoff for Friday’s game begins at 7 p.m. in Coppell’s Buddy Echols Stadium.
Photography courtesy of Rex Teter Photography.
Robert Halliman is a senior journalism major and political science minor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn. A 2010 Carroll Senior High graduate, Robert played defensive tackle for coach Hal Wasson from 2007–2010. An aspiring sports agent and media personality, Robert is also a member of the Lehigh University Business Careers and Entertainment Club.